“Oh shit, Kylie.” She looked at me. “I just got a news blast about our Flower Street account. I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want first?”

I hated when people threw out those kinds of ultimatums, no one ever wanted bad news, but since I’d had such an overwhelming amount of bad news in the last twenty-four hours, I couldn’t bear much more.

“Good news first I guess …” Doubtful the news was going to be any good.

“Well, Flower Street and Every Dream are trending on Twitter, Insta, YouTube, and Facebook. We’re like the top three. Our impressions are blowing up. Subscriptions are through the fucking roof, girl!” I loved her exuberance, but I hardly had the stomach for it that morning. “I know Alec is bullshit, but he put you both on the map last night. As much as I wanna rip him a new one, he did a lot for both of us.”

“And the bad news?” I cringed, waiting for the inevitable media frenzy about Alec and his outrageous bid last night.

The worst part of this was he was helping us. He was being incredibly generous, and I wasn’t giving him a chance. The look on his face when I told him I was pregnant was a cross between horror and shock, so maybe he really didn’t need a chance. I didn’t want to face his ‘Are you keeping it?’ level of commitment to our child so I ran, just as I always had. I ran and hid from all my problems in plain sight.

“You and Alec are practically married. In fact, um … hisgirl246 says you were secretly married and are pregnant, that’s why the bid was so high and why he’s been showing up at your events. Also, they have pics of your baby bump … with super zoomed-in photos of your belly on the catwalk.” She looked up at me.

It was actually worse than I had anticipated. I thought I was going to be able to hide my pregnancy for a while longer.

“I’m going to get pizza and ice cream.” Madison, who was standing at the door to hear Avery’s news, walked out. “We can do this. I’m gonna get food ammo, and we’ll figure this all out when I get back.”

I pretty much went numb as my phone rang again. I expected it was Alec, but it was Maralis from the agency … Yep, things hadn’t hit rock bottom quite yet. I had to take the call.

“Hey,” I answered, trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall again.

“Ask me how much we made last night?” Maybe she hadn’t seen the press … not possible, but maybe.

“A lot,” I answered, knowing most of the money must have been Alec’s.

“Five million dollars … and I just got off the phone with Alec. He’s leasing us the building for a dollar.” She laughed. “I love that man. How was your night by the way? He and I talked about an angle for this; I’m just glad you’ve actually found someone real.”

This morning just got more surreal.

“He’s just the same as the rest. Talk to PR about a strategy to use with him and get it all in writing, and I’ll have him sign it.” I didn’t want to sound horrible, but I did.

“Honey?” Maralis’ voice became softer, less enthused. “What’s really going on here? He seems to think this isn’t just for publicity?”

“Nothing … the same ol’ thing. You know.” Avery stared at me with her loving condemnation.

“I don’t think so. I can tell by the sound of your voice … you’re scared. This is all over the internet; you can’t just brush this off. I mean people are saying you look pregnant, and I kind of think they may be right. You haven’t changed your weight since you started here when you were seventeen, and I can tell for a fact you’ve gained at least ten pounds, maybe more. How far along are you?”

The tears came again, hard.

“I’ve wanted to bring it up for a while, but I wasn’t sure. I mean ten pounds was still in the range, but no more … you know. Only, with Alec’s grand gesture last night, and his insisting that you and he are real and now you’re crying. We’ve got to nail this now.” I hated that she was always the businesswoman.

This wasn’t a business transaction; this was a baby … my baby. I was doing so much to change my reputation and become a positive influence on the society that watched my every move.

“I don’t know what to say,” I whispered.

“Kylie, are you ready to be the poster child of unwed motherhood, especially after what you … we’ve done? Should we have an online poll where people guess who the father is?” Ouch. “And your foundation? What does that say to those kids out there, the ones who are pregnant right now?”

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